Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. WASHINGTON - A federal analysis of dams in the Columbia River basin released today fails to move toward the only viable alternative for saving salmon and the Southern Resident killer whales that rely on them for food: the removal of the four lower Snake River dams. Congress ignored that the Bonneville dam would alter most of the river's ecological processes by changing the flow of water, sediment, nutrients, and biota. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive. It’s the beginning of a study by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation to bring salmon back to the Upper Columbia River. It is fish and the dams’ impact on them, especially salmon, that triggered the meeting—one of 15 the agencies held throughout the Columbia River Basin. “It’s an exciting project. Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. SPOKANE — For the first time in more than a generation, chinook salmon have spawned in the upper Columbia River system. Dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries contributed to salmon losses that resulted from a variety of other impacts, from ocean conditions to fisheries and various land-use practices that altered spawning and rearing habitat. “Dam removal is the only solution that protects these iconic animals. For the first time in more than 80 years, salmon have spawned above the Grand Coulee Dam. Please help keep Common Dreams alive by making a contribution. A number of small dams in the Pacific Northwest that block salmon migration have been removed or are being considered for removal. Adding the tributary miles where salmon spawned nearly doubled the distance. A whale of a problem. Tribal biologists have confirmed that chinook and steelhead salmon are spawning in the upper-Columbia River system in Washington state for the first time in 80 years. According to conservative estimates, the Columbia River Basin, both above and below Bonneville Dam, once produced between 10 and 16 million salmon annually. “The federal failure to remove the dams despite clear supporting science is a disaster for our endangered salmon and orcas,” said Sophia Ressler, Washington wildlife advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. Historically, salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin consisted of 16% fall chinook, 12% spring chinook, 30% summer chinook, 11% coho, 23% sockeye, 8% steelhead, and less than 1% chum. Today, more than 400 dams clog the Columbia and its tributaries. To remain an independent news source, we do not advertise, sell subscriptions or accept corporate contributions. “You never know if the fish are just going to turn around and swim away.”. Sophia Ressler, (206) 399-4004, sressler@biologicaldiversity.org. These dams keep the lights on in the Pacific Northwest — but at an enormous cost. Because of people like you, another world is possible. Many wild salmon runs in … “These agencies’ failure to meaningfully consider dam removal is not only disappointing but dangerous,” Ressler said. But some cautious optimism for the orcas emerged this week after scientists announced observed pregnancies in the J, K and L pods. In 1930 congress authorized the Bonneville dam to be built. In May 2016 the U.S. District Court in Portland invalidated the federal agencies’ 2014 biological opinion for salmon and steelhead endangered by the federal dams and reservoirs on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Center for Biological Diversity (Press Center), 'You Stole a Supreme Court Seat': Critics Pan McConnell Threat to Sabotage Senate If Democrats Target Filibuster, 'We Need to Continue to Fight': Federal Judge Blocks Biden's 100-Day Freeze on Deportations, Report Reveals Racist Conspiracy Theorist Rep. 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